Chapter 35: Flight
Suddenly he stopped. I fell to the ground roughly. I teetered on the edge of consciousness and braced myself for more abuse. I heard a bellow, a deep and guttural scream. I heard a scream, high and feminine, from far away. I heard a masculine grunt of triumph from someone. I felt hands wrap around my chest and shoulders as they dragged me to my feet. All the while, my vision swam and everything I saw was indistinct and spinning. My head pounded, furious imps leaping and protesting throughout my skull at their mistreatment.
My focus returned slowly. I saw was a soft swath of pink hair. It had fallen before my eyes and was tickled my nose. I could detect the faintest whiff of something sweet and comforting in those locks, but I could not place the scent. Next I noticed the shocking contrast of red on white, and belated realized I it was flecks of blood which splattered Bobbi’s pale face. Worry welled up within me. Before I spoke however, I noticed there was no source, no visible wound.
I heard Bobbi’s voice, muffled by the pounding in my ears, call out to me. A moment passed before I pieced together the sounds and thoughts to realize she was saying “We need to move!” Even through the fog, I could tell she was nervous. I looked about the room in confusion. What had given us a reprieve? Why had the assault stopped?
I saw Alexander hunched over behind a nearby table. I strained and rolled over, as much as my aching body was able, to see what had happened to him. Why had he stopped? A woman rushed across the basement, ignoring us and focused on reaching Alexander. It was Janice. He threw his head back, screamed in agony and I saw it. A large meat hook, the same hook which I had removed from Elizabeth’s chest. It hung from the bloody hole that had held Alexander’s only remaining eye. It created a darkly humorous scene. One empty socket, covered with a patch, and a second blocked with a chunk of metal doubtlessly used to torment many others.
The stink of blood was everywhere. I saw a trail of blood, a small river gushing forth from Alexander’s empty socket. There was far too large to simply come from his eye. I was curious, but there were larger concerns.
Bobbi had grabbed the bags. She threw one over each shoulder and shoving the other into my hand. “Take it, mistress. You’ll be upset if we leave these behind.” Seconds later, she had drug me over to Rick’s prone body and pointed to his forehead. “We have to wake him up. We can’t leave him…” I blinked a few times, certain that I misheard Bobbi. Something seemed off how she spoke, but I couldn’t place it in my dazed state.
I leaned down, wondering why Bobbi was so insistent that I do this instead of doing it herself. I shook Rick’s shoulder roughly. I even slapped him a few times. Neither helped, but when I leaned down and placed a hand on either side of his head and muttered “Come on…” he finally started to move. He grumbled and groaned, but he was mobile and we finally managed to drag him to his feet.
As quickly as we could, leaning on each other for support, we made for the cellar door. We staggered across the concrete floor in silence. Each of us hoped neither Alexander nor Janice would notice our escape or otherwise impede our escape, but we made it to the stairs without trouble.
As we reached the cellar stairs, I paused for the briefest of moments as I glanced back to the now sobbing and whimpering Alexander. I saw his ruined eye was not his only wound. He also had a large and jagged wound bisecting his calf and the blood utterly soaked his pant leg before draining onto the floor. Janice desperately placed pressure on the wound, attempted to staunch the bleeding, but was thus far having little effect. He had been so self assured, so certain of his strength, and here he was, broken and bleeding. I almost felt sorry for the man. Almost.
Turning, I stumbled up the uneven wooden steps. The sunlight above was a welcome, if strange, sight. It almost seemed to welcome us back to the surface as we exited that dank and smelly cave. From below, a cracking and miserable voice bellowed. “May the wrath of God strike you down for what you have done…”
I said nothing. Rick was struggled to move and Bobbi focused entirely on keeping us stumbling forward. I forced to get my thoughts organized and functioning again. None of us was in the mood to respond to Alexander’s final challenge.
We staggered through the streets of Paradise. We did our best to ignore the blank stares and eerily friendly waves of the townspeople. None seemed to notice that we were all covered in blood. None made a move to stop us as we wandered through the town. I wondered if they were even capable of acting without direct orders after what had been done to them.
I didn’t remember telling Bobbi of my plan to steal the truck. I didn’t know if she remembered original plan still, if she knew my plan all along, or if she merely came to the same conclusion. Not that it mattered. All that mattered was making our escape and the truck was our best option.
It took a seeming eternity, but we managed to reach the truck. Fortune was on our side, as the doors were unlocked and the keys in the ignition. I idly wondered if it were bull-headed arrogance or some lingering small town trust, but our captor had left our best hope of escape well within reach.
Bobbi and I struggled to lift Rick into the back, but we managed with his feeble help. Once in the truckbed, he groaned and collapsed noisily. I noticed his wounds looked older than they should and his eyes, despite their obvious exhaustion, were more focused than they had been in that dark basement. My brow knitted in confusion as I slammed the truck’s tailgate shut. I pushed that thought away for now. Just another strange day in bizzarro world…
I stumbled around the truck to the passenger side. Bobbi’s determined march to the driver’s seat told me not to argue, even if I were in a state to try. I dropped into the truck’s seat heavily. Once seated, I clutched my head and hoped I wasn’t concussed. Repeated head trauma was likely to have caused brain trauma, and as I rubbed my temples. I was disoriented, queasy, and generally feeling off. I had enough signs to worry. I hoped brute’s savage attack wouldn’t cause lasting damage.
Bobbi landed in the driver’s seat and immediately turned the ignition. She muttered as she checked the gauges and dials. “Dang. Was almost hopin’ I’d get to hotwire something. Been too long…” She flashed me a strange smile and started shifting the large truck into gear. “Seems we’re lucky. Tank’s nearly full.” With those words, she gunned the engine and pushed it forward wildly and across the gentle rolling plains surrounding the village.
I was about to ask her how she intended to make it through the gate without keys or permission. Then I realized that she was making for said gate and showed no sign of slowing down. I held my breath and closed my eyes as we neared it, bracing for impact. I flinched involuntarily at the sounds of crunching metal and flying chains rained down around me.
I cracked my eyes open. We were roughly bumping and plowing our way through the tree line towards the rapidly nearing highway. I doubted we’d be pursued, but I still nervously watched it slowly shrink behind us. In the back of my mind, I could not shake the feeling of fleeing some horrible island and casting ourselves out to sea. Once the open waters of the road were beneath us, I could relax. Only then, would I let myself relax.